CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – More than 120 local high school students visited the Island University, where they participated in a writing workshop and open mic with the 2016 Poet Laureate for the State of Texas, Laurie Ann Guerrero, on March 11.
The event was part of the 19th annual Author’s Day celebration hosted by the Department of English at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. In addition to the student workshop, this year’s events included a free public reading on March 10.
“Our department is proud to offer these sessions each year to students focusing on creative writing, technical communication and writing and literature each year,” said Tom Murphy, Assistant Professor of English and Author’s Day Chair. “It’s a wonderful experience to be able to share our passion to help inspire young poets and writers in the local community.”
Students from Moody, Tuloso-Midway, King, Carroll and Sinton high schools and the Collegiate High School at Del Mar College participated in the Author’s Day workshops where they practiced their writing skills and learned more about the English program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The breakout sessions were taught by TAMU-CC faculty and graduate students.
“I’m very moved by the passion of the students,” said Guerrero. “Over lunch, one of them told me how poetry proved to be an escape for her. She interpreted my poem in a unique way that gave her strength. That’s how I know I’m on the right path, that I’m doing the right thing.”
The workshops encouraged students to read their poems aloud to Guerrero to help them more gain confidence as writers and develop their unique voices. The students’ poems covered multiple themes including inner strength, feminism, heartache and perseverance.
“I learned from Laurie that every line is important,” said Stephanie Tamez, a senior from Carroll High School and prospective English major. “Poetry is created one line at a time, and cannot be rushed. It reaffirmed how therapeutic it is to write.”
During the public reading on March 10, Guerrero read from her second and third collections of poems, “A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying” and “A Crown for Gumecindo.” Guerrero’s “A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying” won the 2012 Andres Montoya Poetry Prize awarded by the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
“I got my creativity from my grandfather,” said Guerrero during the reading. “He was such a great story teller even though he could not read or write and had a third grade education. He always knew when to pause and how to deliver a line.”
The event also featured poet Jose Angel Araguz, a Corpus Christi native, who opened the event with readings from his books, “Reasons Not to Dance” and “Everything We Think We Hear.”
The annual Author’s Day events attract members of the community, area high school students, first year college students, English majors, and many other graduate and undergraduate students from across campus to celebrate the cultural influence of literature and writing. The events are sponsored by the Paul and Mary Haas Foundation.
To learn more about Guerrero’s work, go to http://www.laurieannguerrero.com/.